As Halloween has evolved into more of an adult celebration over the years, the city of New Orleans has proven to be the American city is synonymous with ambience of Halloween.
Even as children, Halloween night was defined by as an eerie time when ghosts and goblins ran from house to house in frightening costumes with the intent on scaring others. The activity of “trick or treat” lent itself to the invitation to participate in mischievous deeds against those who failed to offer an acceptable treat.
As the Baby Boomer generation matured, I witnessed Halloween grow into a night for adult partying and dare I say – debauchery. Sexy costumes became as popular as scary costumes and it seems the ultimate costumes were those that morphed sexy and scary – like a sexy witch or a naughty nurse with a menacing look.
The French Quarter of New Orleans has always been a city shrouded by a sexy mystique. The image and ambience of the French Quarter provides a most fitting backdrop for the mature celebration of Halloween.
Halloween was born in pagan rituals from the old countries from which America was born. New Orleans is one of America’s most authentic old world cities.
New Orleans is considered one of the country’s most haunted cities and there are countless stories of hotels, restaurants, homes and buildings that are believed to be haunted and actively visited in present day by spirits that continue to linger in our world many years after leaving the mortal world.
The old and diverse landscape of roofs and facades of the homes and buildings in the French Quarter seem more like a Hollywood set for a horror movie than the current real world. And on those nights when a soft blanket of fog gives accent to the historic street lamps and signs – the French Quarter’s mystique becomes even more obvious.
There are enough stories of haunted places in the French Quarter to make most of us believe that the Quarter may have as many past spirits as current residents. And the stories of actual horrific activities in many of the Quarter’s dwellings that spawned the more credible ghost stories – make the unbelievable seem even more believable.
Since Halloween inspires costumes and New Orleans has the tradition of disguise rooted in the Mardi Gras – it is no surprise that the French Quarter has become the ideal setting for the eerie mystery that is Halloween!
The tangible elements of the French Quarter with the frightening images of mortals disguised as menacing creatures and the ever-present thoughts of linger spirits – blurs the lines of what is real and what is not on Halloween night in the French Quarter of New Orleans!
One Halloween myth demonstrates that it is true - the media can easily start and perpetrate hysteria because people believe what they want to believe.
Every Halloween parents are warned that trick-or-treating is dangerous. Sinister people have been known to put poison in Halloween candy and razor blades in apples and treats giving to children on Halloween night. The fear of children being poisoned or injured by sharp objects embedded in their innocent treats led to local hospitals offering complimentarily x-rays of trick-or-treat candy and many parents took advantage of the opportunity to have their children’s candy x-rayed.
The fear of evil people with the intent to harm or kill children fits perfectly into the mystery of Halloween night. But the truth is – there were never any actual cases of strangers tainting Halloween candy with poison or sharp objects. So, how did this widely believed myth grow to the point of being a credible Halloween threat?
In 1974, a Waco, Texas man named Ronald Clark O’Brien did purposely put cyanide in candy that he gave to his 8-year-old son, Timothy O’Brien. Timothy died as a result of eating the candy. It was later discovered that Ronald had a large insurance policy on his young son and the tainted candy was an attempt to collect the insurance money. Ronald Clark O’Brien was convicted of murder and executed by lethal injection in 1984.
It was that tragedy in 1974 that spawned the popular myth that evil people are lurking in neighborhoods across America with the malicious intent of poisoning and harming innocent children as they trick-or-treat Halloween night. We are all guilty of believing incredible stories that have been proven to be urban myths. It is human nature to be excited about sharing new information with others. So, when we hear a story that has all the elements of something incredible and we will get credit for informing others – the temptation to believe and share the story becomes overwhelming.
There are very credible “ghost stories” most of us have believed and passed on to others. We wanted to believe those amazingly haunting stories so we could be the ones to enlighten others with our knowledge of a scary story we know will be shared with many others. Our desire to believe bizarre stories overpowers our rational thinking.
But the media is also to blame for giving the public what it wants to hear rather than what it needs to hear. I’m not exactly sure how the incident of a father putting poison in his young son’s Halloween candy in 1974 evolved into a media frenzy about the new dangers of trick-or-treating, but it appears the media fed on the public’s willingness to accept as fact a threat that never was real.
As we continue to analyze the relationship between the media and the audience in our society on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, it is fair to place blame on both the media and the audience for the false fear that has been conjured up about the dangers of Halloween treats. It appears that a story legitimately reported in the media was misinterpreted as a widespread phenomenon, rather than an isolated case. And when one person tells a story to another person and that person tells it to yet another person, each individual adds something extra to the story until it becomes a story that instills mass panic and fear.
A simple warning that it is possible to taint Halloween candy with poison could easily have led to the belief that such incidents have occurred. When a simple warning reached the level of hospitals offering to x-ray children’s Halloween candy, the story became totally legitimate.
Both the media and the audience may be to blame for the perpetration of the poison Halloween candy myth, but it should be acknowledged that the media instinctively has more interest in a story that causes fear in the minds of Americans than in a story that defuses fear.
Over the years the stories that dealt with warning people about poison and dangerous objects in Halloween candy were much more high-profile in the news than any stories that attempted to set-the-record-straight that the fear is completely unwarranted and indeed a myth.
We all love to believe a good ghost story and society loved embracing a new fear that fit the ambience of Halloween night! Maybe the thought that there is really something to fear in the midst of the innocence of trick-or-treating on Halloween gave adults a reason to be afraid. And being afraid seems to be part of the human existence. Why else would we willing go to a movie we know will scare us?
Protecting the self-esteem of all individuals may seem humane and beneficial – but it may actually be hurting society – especially young people.
A pee wee football team in Georgia was fined $500 and the coach was suspended from the youth league for one year because the team scored too many points in a game. The Lawrenceville Black Knights were leading Collins Hill 32 – 0, when an 8-year-old intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown. That made the score 38 – 0 and that violated the league’s “mercy rule,” which states that no team is allowed to beat another team by more than 33 points.
Brooke Burdett, the mother of 8-year-old Elijah who intercepted the pass and ran it back for a touchdown said, “He had no idea. This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an 8-year-old boy making a pick-six.” Burdett believes it is unfair to punish the team for her son’s accomplishment.
The concept behind the “mercy rule” is part of a continuing trend in this country to protect the self-esteem of everyone – particularly young people – but that comes at the expense of dismissing accomplishments.
We have all heard stories about schools across the country giving everyone an award. There have been campaigns to do away with grades because the self-esteem of the students that do not make good grades is damaged when other students excel.
While it can be argued that any efforts to protect self-esteem are civil and honorable, there should be a discussion about the negative impact protecting self-esteem has on individuals.
First - and most importantly – life is not fair and not everyone is a winner all the time. But it is imperative for every young person to learn that life isn’t fair and you can’t always be a winner. No parent wants to see their child fail at anything, but the idea that everyone is a winner and everyone is rewarded robs young people of learning very important lessons in life.
Also – by discouraging the recognition and rewarding of excellence – society is disregarding an important element – incentive. Striving for excellence in any aspect of life is an integral part of the idea of competition. It is in our human nature to compete. One of the reasons for the collapse of communism is the equal pay and treatment of all workers ignored the human spirit. Communism has succeeded in China, so far, because the communist government allows a free market society, which recognizes the human desire to compete.
When I hear about a football team of young kids being punished for their success, I think about the damage this is doing to our society. The 8-year-old boy who intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown did exactly what he was taught to do – score and win. An 8-year-old boy should not be taught that his accomplishment was detrimental to his team.
When Lawrenceville was leading Collin Hill 32 – 0 – they were not trying to run up the score. Collin Hill had the ball and was trying to score when a pass was intercepted. It is unreasonable for anyone to expect the 8-year-old – at the moment he intercepted a pass – to look up at the scoreboard and do the math that another touchdown would put his team over the 33 point lead limit and that would violate the “mercy rule.”
I played sports when I was in middle school and junior high – but I wasn’t very good and there were others who got all the attention and the awards. I also remember a time in junior high school when I started a band and we played dances around the area. I was the drummer – but I was not a good drummer. One day the band got together and kicked me out of the band I started! That was hurtful and a very difficult and embarrassing moment in my life – but it taught me to always strive to be the best I can be. I also learned that I didn’t have to be good at everything and we are all challenged – as kids and even as adults – to find the things we can do better than others and work hard to be the best we can be at those endeavors.
Winning is easier than losing – and we learn more from losing. It is also important to teach young people that you can lose without liking the idea of losing. True winners are carved out of losing moments.
In college football and the NFL, there are teams that are totally dominated by other teams. Often - long before the game is over - a team faces the realization that they will not win the game. So, what keeps them going? Why do they keep playing?
There are times in life when we must learn to do something for the sake of pride. Regardless of the field of competition – a football field, a classroom or an office – sometimes you strive to be the best you can be even in the face of certain defeat. Winning based on a tangible score is not as important as the self-respect – and the respect of others – that comes from challenging yourself to do your best. Striving to be the best – even in defeat – forms the habit of being a winner.
While doing your best often leads to winning - proving to yourself and to others that you will always do your best even if there is no award at the end – demonstrates the character that winners are made of.
Rather than protecting self-esteem by making sure no one loses or that losses are downplayed – whether in sports, the classroom or the workplace – it is far better to encourage those who are not succeeding to work harder at achieving their goals.
We have evolved into a nation that is so protective of self-esteem that we discourage winners. It is far better for us to be a nation that encourages winners!
Should a patient who is prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor in a state where the use of medicinal marijuana is legal – lose their 2nd Amendment rights?
Bobbi Jo Floyd of Richland, Washington is an authorized marijuana patient and a proponent for medical pot – but Bobbi is also a Republican who believes in gun ownership.
In January, Bobbi Jo Floyd applied for a concealed pistol license with the local police station. She answered all the questions properly and when asked “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana?” she answered “no.” As an authorized marijuana patient in a state where medicinal pot is legal, she believed “no” was the answer that applied to her.
An employee at the police station recognized her and knew that she was a marijuana patient. She was then asked to provide her medical marijuana authorization card. Feeling that everything she was doing was legal, Bobbi complied.
The Richland Police Chief decided that under federal law, Bobbi Jo Floyd was not eligible for the concealed pistol permit and her request was denied.
In June, an amendment was offered in the U.S. Senate that would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from targeting citizens who have been legally authorized to use medicinal marijuana in states where it is legal.
The issue is complicated because as states legalize the medicinal and recreational use of pot, it is still a controlled substance that is illegal on the federal level.
Under President Obama, the Justice Department appears to be adopting a policy that respects state’s rights on the marijuana issue. But beyond that legal conflict, the case of an authorized user of medical marijuana being denied a concealed carry license raises the question of whether smoking pot renders an individual incapable of owning a gun.
Any suggestion that a person who smokes pot should not be allowed to own a gun quickly brings up the question of whether a person who drinks whiskey is safe owning a gun.
I do not smoke pot and will not become a consumer of pot if it becomes legal in my states – but in my life – I have witnessed more mood swings with a tendency to become violent with those who consume alcohol than marijuana.
Hysteria over the effects of marijuana still seems to reach back to the documentary, “Reefer Madness,” which was produced to demonstrate the evil effects of pot on an individual. However, pot smokers in the movie displayed extremely exaggerated behavior, including hallucinations and a desire to commit acts of violence. “Reefer Madness” was essentially a propaganda film that in the context of the world today is sheer comedy!
If users of marijuana should not own guns – then I suggest an extensive study be conducted on whether or not those who consume high-potent energy drinks should own guns!
The important midterm election is two weeks away and hosts on The Fox News Channel have again, told young voters not to vote!
Tuesday on the Fox News Channel show, “The Five,” co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that young women should not vote because they do not share the same life experiences as older women and they should go back to spending time on sites like Match.com. Co-host Greg Gutfeld said that “with age comes wisdom” and that the “older you get, the more conservative you get.”
Earlier this month on the Fox News Channel show “Outnumbered,” co-host Harris Faulkner said that young people should not vote because they “don’t know the issues.”
Is this a good message to young voters – don’t vote?
When I turned 18 – I remember being excited about registering to vote and I have been a consistent voter ever since. At 18, I felt I was informed enough to vote. Why would a few of the hosts on the Fox News Channel discourage young voters from voting in the upcoming election? Could it be that younger voters tend to vote for Democrats over Republicans and the message to stay away from the polls is an attempt to protect Republican candidates?
It is irresponsible for anyone in the media to tell a particular demographic to stay away from the polls and not vote in an election. Voting is a precious right that we, in America, are born with, and yet it is so often taken for grant it. In Hong Kong, we have witnessed citizens, many young people, protesting in the streets for the right to have a democratic voice – and in America, many people who probably consider themselves patriotic Americans are not registered to vote and many who are simply do not make an effort to vote.
The suggestion that young people not vote is to suggest that older Americans are well-informed before they go to the polls and I do not see research that supports the premise. Older Americans who blindly vote for any candidate from a particular party, rather than research the individual candidate void of their party affiliation, are not voting responsibly.
As America has grown more politically divided – many citizens pick a team – Republican or Democrat – and support that party’s candidates. Every American should be challenged to vote for a candidate – not a political party. Of course, many who align themselves with one party or another will support the candidates on their political character and not simply because of party affiliation. But many will only see the color red or blue when voting.
My generation had a strong political voice in the shadow of an Establishment that thought we were uninformed. My generation is now the Establishment and I reject the idea that young people should be discouraged from voting.
Rather than tell young people to stay away from the polls – young people should be encouraged to study the issues and the candidates. And older voters should look themselves in the mirror and challenge themselves to do the same.
Vote! But know who and what you are voting for or against! Participation in the system of politics is a more powerful way to show you are a patriotic America than waving a flag. Waving a flag is easier – but not more patriotic!
The Scoot Blog for September 24, 2014 was titled: “Do the Saints lack a killer instinct?” The previous Sunday the Saints beat the Vikings at home, but the lack of a killer instinct on the part of the Saints was apparent.
Following the Saints “come-from-ahead-loss” Sunday in Detroit, ESPN.com posted an article titled: “Drew Brees, Saints have lost killer instinct.” While I do not always agree with the national media’s coverage of the Saints and New Orleans – the ESPN article is justified.
Before the game, I said I thought the Saints would beat the Lions and not only improve their record, but also take a step toward silencing the critics about winning on the road. And for most of the game – my prediction was looking good!
What happened Sunday in the total collapse of the Saints was an unfortunate, but familiar sight to Saints fans. But most of us thought those sights of losing games in the end were part of the Saints in the past – not a Saints team with so much promise at the beginning of the season. Optimism about the Saints was not just coming from Saints fans - calling the Saints a “Super Bowl contender” was widespread throughout the national media.
The Saints had the talent and even overcame injuries in the game against the Lions Sunday to lead 23-17 with under 3:40 remaining in the game – and that’s when the Saints began to fall apart. But if they had the talent to hold a lead until the closing minutes of the 4th quarter – then the only possible reason for losing is mental – not physical. To me that suggests the lack of a killer instinct that comes from the top leaders.
I respect Drew Brees accepting responsibility for throwing an interception and letting the team down, but I continue to hear a deafening tone of complacency in post-game explanations. Where is the sense of urgency?
The word “unfortunately” has been used in post-game press conferences and interviews. Using “unfortunately” seems to suggest that there is some force plaguing the Saints. One definition of “unfortunate” is: “suffering from bad luck.” The Saints are not sitting at 2-4 right now because of bad luck and the continued use of the word “unfortunately” suggests that there was really nothing the Saints could do to prevent the loss.
Sean Payton has not been pleased with reporters asking about the Saints having a problem winning on the road – but the Saints have proven that they have had a problem winning on the road.
An ambience of complacency has been dominating the post-game reviews of the game and that is not reassuring for fans. It is not necessary for coaches or players to rant and rave and become physically animated to show their disappointment with losing – but what has been lacking from the Saints publically is a defiant and determined tone that this team will change.
I hope we look back on the early part of this season like I think we will look back on the panic over Ebola in the United States. The Saints happen to be in a division where no team is dominating and even with a relatively poor record – the Saints could still win the NFC South and go to the playoffs.
Mark Menard from WWL Sports has spoken of a playoff scenario where the Saints win the NFC South and the Seattle Seahawks are a wild card team – which could lead to the Seahawks would playing the Saints in the dome. The Seahawks went to the playoffs with a poor record and that year they knocked the Saints from the playoffs. Could the Saints be on the road to ultimate revenge?
And the road to revenge could being Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when the Saints take on the red-hot Green Bay Packers in a national televised game. I thought the Saints were going to turn the season around last week in Detroit – but they have another chance to do that this Sunday night!
If the Saints beat the Packers Sunday that will still keep alive the questions about the Saints winning on the road. Only the team can stifle those questions and it is fair for the media to ask about the team’s road record.
It should also be a concern when Drew Brees throws up the ball “hoping” that a Saints player catches the ball. Brees is now being criticized for being so unwilling to take a hit that he is willing to throw the ball up for grabs. Bobby Hebert has said that ‘when much is given – much is expected.’ It is only fair that Saints fans expect more from Drew Brees – it is fair that Drew Brees expects more of himself.
I hope the word “unfortunate” is not used Sunday night following the game because we won – but even in losing – the word “unfortunate” makes it seem like a displacement of responsibility.
Now that a second hospital worker who cared for the Ebola patient who died in Dallas has contracted the deadly disease, are you becoming a germophobe?
For those of us who have admitted we are germophobes, our lives will not really change. But will the fear of an Ebola outbreak in America cause others to become even more conscious of germs?
When two doctors treating Ebola patients in Africa contracted the disease and were flown back to the United States for treatment, the CDC assured us that the chances of Americans getting Ebola was so miniscule that there was no need for concern. After a hospital worker in Dallas came down with the disease, the CDC announced it was changing its protocol for handling Ebola patients. Suddenly, one gets the impression that even the CDC underestimated Ebola.
Deborah Burger of National Nurses United claims that nurses across the nation have not been properly trained to care for Ebola patients.
The fear of a possible Ebola outbreak in America has topped the news and social media. Both the news media and social media thrive on this kind of story. Ebola is serious, but there is often a tendency to exaggerate stories to attract a greater audience, which is the goal of both the news media and social media.
The news media is not necessarily exaggerating the serious nature of Ebola, but, instinctively, the new media creates a sense of urgency that often transcends reality.
With movies like, “Outbreak” and “Contagion,” Hollywood has given us all a capsulized scenario of what can happen when a deadly disease spreads. But we should remember that as realistic as movies can be, the ease with which a disease might spread in the real world is quite different from what we see in a 2-hour movie.
Ebola is real and so is the threat that it will spread – but the possibility of average Americans contracting the disease does not match the visions we have from movies.
The good news is that many of those who become more paranoid about being exposed to Ebola will change their awareness of germs everywhere and that might prevent then from even getting the flu this season.
The fear of a widespread outbreak of Ebola in America still seems like a very distant possibility. Let common sense overpower the temptation to become hysterical as the news continues to promote an outbreak as a real possibility.
This is one time when I’m glad I’m a germophobe – my habits need not change!
Does an attractive 26-year-old nurse contracting Ebola in the United States change the face of the disease?
When Nina Pham, a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, was diagnosed with Ebola even after wearing protective gear, the idea that Ebola could spread to average Americans dominated the news. The face of Nina Pham gave a new face to the deadly virus.
The American doctors who contracted Ebola working with patients in Africa and returned to the United States for treatment did change the images of those suffering with the disease – but it seems that the young nurse with Ebola drastically changed the perception that Ebola was not reserved for the stereotypes we have seen on the news daily.
During the 1980s, there was much criticism of the government for not being more proactive in trying to control the spread of AIDS. At the time, AIDS was perceived as a disease of gays and street drug users. But in 1984, Ryan White, a typical American teenager in middle school in middle class America was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS following a blood transfusion.
Fear immediately spread and when Ryan tried to return to school in 1985, he was denied admission over fear that other students would contract AIDS – even though Ryan was cleared by health officials.
Parents, teachers and students aggressively protested the school system allowing Ryan White back in school. After protests and court battles, Ryan White returned to school in February of 1986, but 151 of the 360 students stayed home because out of fear that AIDS would spread to others just by being in the same school with Ryan.
Ryan White became the new national face of AIDS and suddenly the concern of contracting the disease became real for many average Americans. AIDS was no longer seen as a gay and street drug user disease. Even President Reagan and President George H. W. Bush embraced Ryan White with honors and empathy.
Is the young Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, the Ryan White of Ebola?
It is unfortunate that there is such a great tendency to dismiss a problem until it appears that it could become your problem. Most Americans felt very little fear from Ebola because they would never travel to West Africa and the chances of coming in contact with someone who had traveled to that part of the world seemed too remote to be a serious concern. But when Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, changed his position from reassuring Americans that they are not in a position to contract the disease to the CDC reassessing protocol – concern among average Americans justifiably grew.
The truth is – we share this planet with other human beings – other human beings who look, act and talk differently. Our bond is not with human beings in general – our bond is with human beings that look, act and talk like us.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. was just as human as Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who is the first person to contract Ebola in the U.S. – yet, the face of Nina Pham suddenly makes the disease more of a reality for all of us.
The arrest report in the case of the two Destrehan teachers accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student has been released by police. The report indicates that the teachers allegedly “had consensual intercourse with a 16-year-old juvenile.” The teachers are identified as Shelley Dufresne and Rachel Respess. The report shows that both teachers engaged in sex with the same student at the Kenner apartment of Rachel Respess.
The arrest report also shows that the alleged sex began on the night of Friday, September 12 and continued into the following morning. Investigators are awaiting a forensic analysis of a cell phone that may contain video of the teachers and the student.
Even those who know this alleged sexual activity is blatantly wrong – there is still an instinctive reaction of “Wow – how did this guy get so lucky?”
If we have come a long way since the Women’s Lib Movement in the 1970s – much of our culture continues to celebrate the male prerogative when it comes to sex. There is little doubt that reaction to this case would be different if the teacher has been male and the student had been a 16-year-old female, which demonstrates that the double standard with sex is still in place.
One reason for the double standard is the fact that in most cases – the male has the physical strength to control a sexual situation with a female – or in this case – two females. But if the law defines female adults having sex with a 16-year-old male student as a crime – even if consensual – then reaction should be the same as if it were a 16-year-old girl. Yet, reaction to a male in this situation reinforces gender inequality.
As I wrote in a previous blog, the 16-year-old male student knew what he allegedly agreed to do with the teachers was wrong and yet, he voluntarily drove to the apartment where the sexual activity allegedly took place and according to the arrest report he stayed there all night. If the adult teachers did participate in sex with a 16-year-old student – they should be held accountable. But the argument could be made that a 16-year-old student would know that sexual activity is wrong even with another 16-year-old.
In a world that has fought against gender discrimination – the silent reaction that many have about a 16-year-old student having sex with two attractive young teachers is affirmation that when it comes to sex – males are “triumphant” and females are “trash.”
Isn’t it time we recognize and correct this obvious discrepancy?
We have the freedom to make many choices in America, but only three states – Oregon, Washington and Vermont – grant individuals the right to die.
A 29-year-old woman with a brain tumor has chosen November 1 as her “deathday.” Brittany Maynard moved to Portland, Oregon and plans to take advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity Act and will be prescribed a lethal medication on November 1.
Maynard says that she wants to die with dignity, rather than suffer the slow and painful death from her brain tumor. She says she wants to die in her own bed at home with her favorite music is playing while surrounded by her husband and family. She says she is not suicidal, but is choosing to die on her own terms.
Do you think Americans should have the right to choose to die? This ethical question inspires a passionate debate. We have either witnessed or heard stories about people who have endured a long and painful death. Assisted suicide is a way to prevent an individual from suffering. But then there is the question about whether that is playing God.
Many believe that God gives life and only God can take life and to make a decision that has been left up to God is considered a major sin. However, the other argument is that if humans are blessed with the intelligence to create a means that would prevent intense suffering – shouldn’t we embrace that option?
Even without laws permitting citizens the right to die – we are all free to choose death over life. That’s called suicide. We have a right to abuse and destroy our bodies with substances – yet we debate whether we should have the right to choose death over life.
This is obviously a question that can only be answered by individuals facing a painful death and their families. The concept of right to die laws is not based on giving a depressed teenager the right to choose to end their life. Doctors are involved in the process and an assessment is made based on an individual’s case.
When I think about this 29-year-old who is choosing to die on November 1, I think about the life she will be missing and the life she is taking from her friends and family. Brittany Maynard says in an online video that her message to everyone is to live your life to the fullest every day. But if she choose to die while she is still capable of communicating - think of the things that might be said during that time and the shared moments with others. If each day of life we have an opportunity to touch others with our thoughts, words and presence – shouldn’t we take advantage of that blessing?
I believe that each individual and their families must make that very personal and final decision and I am not attempting to pass judgment or speak for Brittany Maynard and her family. But life is precious and in any moment of any day we never know how we might impact the lives of others.
I recently met a listener, Ms. Donna of Houma, who was dying. Her daughter said she was a big fan and she wanted to meet “Scoot.” In the few weeks I knew her before she passed away, I had a chance to visit her 3 different times at her home in Houma. In the time that I spent with Ms. Donna – she touched me and taught me that expressing love and appreciation only takes a hand – a word – or just eye contact.
I know she was in pain, but if Ms. Donna had chosen death – I would never have touched my life and that means she touched the lives of so many others. I witnessed how her family came together and appreciated every moment they had with this wonderful woman.
The lesson to be learned from the debate about the right to die is that every living moment we have the ability to touch the lives of others. There could come a time when the pain of dying becomes so unbearable that pain medication is no longer working and that may be the right to time ask permission if you can leave this world.
I hope in the case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard that she considers the moments she is taking from those close to her – as well as the moments she will be missing.